Keller, Omar debate funding of 'College Affordability Act'

November 6, 2019
In The News

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The debate over debt-free college caught a local Congressman in the crossfire with one of Congress’s most controversial members.

Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.) challenged Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on who exactly would be paying for the Democrats affordable college plan known as the College Affordability Act. But Keller doesn’t think it’s affordable at all.

That led Keller, the first-term representative who is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, into a back-and-forth with one of the lawmakers in the group Trump calls “The Squad.”

The exchange happened late last week during what’s known as a markup in the House Education and Labor Committee. That’s where the committee decides what’s in and what’s out of the legislation before it goes to the full House.

The Democrats’ proposal aims to lower student-loan debt by offering free community college, increasing Pell Grant funding, and expand the public service loan forgiveness program. The price tag: an estimated $400 billion over ten years. The plan doesn’t outright cancel student loan debt or make a four-year college free.

But the hefty price tag had Republicans like Keller opposed from the start.

“Simply changing who pays the bill doesn’t make something affordable,” Keller argued. “Government cannot give to anyone anything that it does not first take from someone else.”

“Congress forced the American people to bail out Wall Street,” Omar refuted. “Why shouldn’t Wall Street make a return on that investment and bail out American students?”

Keller is one of the few current members of the U.S. House of Representatives to have never attended college, according to his spokesman.

The bill is unlikely to clear the Republican-controlled Senate where lawmakers there have introduced a more conservative version of this bill.